An Industry First?

Emerald recently announced “Emerald partners with anti-plagiarism database in publishing industry first!” Strikes me as such an odd thing to be proud of. So much for author-editor-publisher trust.

So, now TurnItIn.com will not only get a copy of student papers from schools across the country without paying the authors for their content but scholarly pieces too. (Will be interesting if this is ever challenged in the courts but at the moment a shout-out to the high school students who protested earlier this month. We should do more to educate students about their own intellectual property rights – a neglected component of information literacy education. These students are doing pretty well on their own though!) I feel for the authors who will submit their work to an Emerald journal, have it run through TurnItIn.com, and then have their piece rejected or revision required. In the first, imagine them submitting to another journal that uses TurnItIn.com and having it come up as suspected of plagiarism because it matches their own work! In the later, of course the revision is likely to be at least somewhat similiar to the first!

So, now I have another clause to add to my “conditions under which I will publish in xyz journal” — you will not contribute my manuscript to TurnItIn.com. It is my manuscript. It isn’t that I am worried I’ll be caught for plagiarism. It is that I continue to seek ways to control my own intellectual property. This one will also now go on my list of items to ask about if invited to review any manuscripts or serve on editorial boards.

Author: Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe

Lisa is Head, Undergraduate Library, Coordinator for Information Literacy Services and Instruction, Office of Services, and Associate Professor, Library Administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

2 thoughts on “An Industry First?”

  1. This is an appalling development! And how interesting it comes from the publisher that made a practice of publishing the same article in several journals without notifying the authors or the subscribers.

    That’s one more irony on top of the irony that a company that supposedly promotes proper use of intellectual property routinely violates it as its very business model. (Don’t steal other people’s work. That’s our job.)

    The company’s legal analsyis claiming fair use is fairly bizarre – they only use the copy so they can create a “fingerprint,” and somehow that’s okay because they’re not, you know, selling it or anything. That seems a whole lot shakier to me than Google’s claim of fair use in their library project.

    But they obviously have found a profitable niche – now they’re selling a similar product with LexisNexis to companies that want to go after anyone using their content – and to avoid costly plagiarism scandals a la Jayson Blair.

    Personally, I prefer the Writing Program Administrator’s approach – and newsroom editors who do their jobs without resorting to mechanical software.

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